Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dave's Reading Club

09 November 2005

Well, okay, it may not be as popular and "feel good" as Oprah's Book Club, but it can make for some good reading. First note should be that "Jarhead" has opened in the theaters. I didn't even know that the book was being turned into a movie! I talked about this book about a year ago. Hopefully, the movie isn't too watered down or strays too far from the mood and presentation of the book.

No sooner did I finish Caleb Carr's "Angel of Darkness" I started (and finished this morning) Mirta Ojito's autobiographical escape from Cuba, "Finding Manana". I guess what interested me in this book when I picked it up was the whole subject of the Mariel Boatlift back in 1980.

Long before the Mariel Boatlift, back in 7th grade in 1973 our English teacher, Mrs. Olsen had her hairdresser come in to speak to the class. This woman told us her story of her and her husband escaping Cuba in the 1960's, but having to leave their son behind with her mother. Both were very educated professionals back in Cuba, but once they left, they were forced to take jobs way below their capabilities in order to get established in the U.S. They had always hoped and prayed that their son would be able to join them, but Fidel was not about to let a potential soldier leave the island before he gave the Revolution proper consideration. After reading this book, it makes me wonder if the hairdresser's poor son didn't end up as a "military advisor" or such in Angola; as this was a very common assignment.

Thinking back to this speaker and remembering the flood of refugees that came into Florida in 1980 when I was sitting in my college dorm room and watching the news between classes, made me want to know more...better understand. What could make people so desperate that they would leave family behind, attempt to escape in boats so unseaworthy?

Surprisingly, in a few parts this book really gets deep into the political process in Cuba and the Cuban community in Miami. I expected it was going to be more "feel-good" and less political. This isn't a bad thing. When you get down to the whole Cuba thing, it is still a completely political issue. If the question was ever one of being a "humanitarian" issue, normal trade would have been restored with Cuba much earlier than...oh, that's right; trade between the U.S. and Cuba is still restricted to only medical and basic food items.

If the embargo was to starve Fidel until he cries Uncle, the nearly 50 year old embargo has not worked. The only people that the embargo has hurt is the poor. At some point when Communism ruled, it was a convincing argument. No that Castro stands alone with Chavez, we need to find some acceptable medium. Life is too short. Castro is old and Havana needs some capitalist infusion to restore it to its former grandeur. Havana needs to be restored to its old Ricky Ricardo days. "Baba-looooooo!"
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